(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Bernie Sanders isn’t afraid to be called a socialist. In fact, the Vermont Independent proudly labels himself a Democratic socialist.
“Do you hear me cringing? Do you hear me running under the table?” Sanders said rhetorically when asked if Democratic socialist is an accurate description.
Sanders is so delighted with his brand of politics that he said in an interview with ABC News that it would be a “damn good platform” on which to run for president.
“If the American people understand what goes on in countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and other countries, they will say, ‘Whoa, I didn’t know that!’” he said, pointing out that health care is considered a right, “R-I-G-H-T,” among even the most conservative politicians in Denmark.
Sanders described his credo as a fight to protect America’s working class from what he sees as the threat of an approaching “oligarchic form of society.”
“You have today in America more income and wealth inequality than any time in this country since 1928 and more than any major country in the world,” he said. “So, you got the top 1 percent owning 38 percent of the wealth in America. Do you know what the bottom 60 percent own? 2.3 percent.”
“You know what that is?” he continued. “That’s called oligarchy.”
Though Sanders isn’t making any secret of his possible 2016 presidential bid, he said he’s still determining whether he could generate a sufficient level of grassroots support on which to build a campaign.
“Look, it’s easy for me to give a good speech, and I give good speeches,” he said. “It is harder to put together a grassroots organization of hundreds of thousands of millions of people prepared to work hard and take on the enormous amounts of money that will be thrown against us.”
One of Sanders’ most likely competitors, should he choose to seek the Democratic nomination, is Hillary Clinton. And while Sanders praised Clinton for a successful career, he was critical of the Democratic Party’s seeming coronation of the former secretary of state.
“She has accomplished a lot of very positive things in her career, but I’m not quite sure that the political process is one in which we anoint people,” Sanders said.
Though he stopped short of criticizing Clinton directly, he said she is not a sufficient champion of his message for the middle class.
“What I’m telling you is that this country has more serious problems today than any time since the Great Depression,” he said. “Those are the real issues that we’ve got to start dealing with.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Laura Koran, CNN
David Goldman, CNN
Laura Koran, Dan Merica and Tom LoBianco, CNN
Ruth Brown and Lis Stewart, Idaho Press-Tribune